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Best Budget Multimeter: Our Top 5 Picks for 2017

A multimeter is an instrument designed to measure voltage, resistance, and current in electronic equipment. These are hand-held devices that are used primarily to find faults in electronic circuitry. For anyone working in the electronics industry, or involved with any other circuitry work, choosing the best budget multimeter is crucial to do their work.

Quick Look: Our Top Picks

Multimeter NameQualityPriceRating
AstroAI Digital MultimeterA+$
INNOVA 3320 MultimeterA$$
Crenova MS8233DA$
DMiotech Digital MultimeterA+$
Etekcity MSR-P600A$$

Digital and Analog Multimeters

Multimeters were once analog, not digital. These test tools are a standard piece of diagnostic equipment for technicians and electricians, and the digital versions replace needle-based meters with a more accurate display. Instead of a needle pointing to a number, a digital multimeter can display readings to at least one or two decimal points.

The first digital multimeter was released in 1977, and today they all feature a similar range of features.

The Face of a Multimeter

On the front of a multimeter, you will typically find four components. These include:

  • Input Jacks

The input jacks are where test leads are inserted. These include black and red (positive and negative) ports, and there will typically be four available at the bottom of the device.

  • Dial or Switch

The dial or rotary switch will be used to select the measurement values, which typically include ohms, amps, and volts.

  • Display

The display is where the readings are displayed. Every model is different, though a quality multimeter will display a reading up to at least one or two decimal points.

  • Buttons

There will also be other buttons designed to control settings and functions on the device. The buttons will vary depending on the kind of device you purchase.

How to Use a Multimeter

There are three primary ways that you will use a multimeter – to test resistance, to test voltage, and to test continuity. Technicians will typically know their way around a multimeter, but if you are new to this kind of equipment, there are some things you should know about using the equipment.

How to Test Continuity

Continuity tests are used to determine whether two parts of a circuit are connected – meaning, the circuit is continuous. To perform this test, take a black probe and plug it into the COM port, and then plug the red probe into the multimeter’s VΩmA port. Turn on the multimeter and turn the dial onto the continuity mode, which is usually represented by a sound wave-shaped icon.

To test continuity, your multimeter will send current through the probe and check to see if the other probe receives it. If there is a current flowing through your circuit, the screen will display a 0 and make a beeping noise. So, to test continuity within a circuit, place one probe at one end of your circuit, and the other probe at the other end of the circuit. If you see a 0, it means there is continuity. If you see a 1 or OL (which means open loop), then there is a break in the circuit.

How to Test Resistance

Start by plugging your black probe in the COM port and your red probe in the VΩmA port. Turn on the multimeter, and switch the dial to resistance mode. This will be indicated by the ohms symbol, Ω.

Given that most multimeters are not auto-ranging, you will have to choose the right range for the resistance that you are expecting from the equipment you are testing. If you don’t know what level of resistance to expect, turn it to the highest setting and you can work your way down using trial and error.

After you have placed one probe at one end of the circuit, and another probe on the other end, your multimeter will give you a reading. If the reading is close to zero, this means that you have chosen too high a range. To get your reading, keep turning the range down. If the range is too low, you will see either 1 or OL on the screen. In between these two, you will find your reading.

How to Test Voltage

To test voltage, you’ll need to plug in the black probe to the COM port, and again plug the red probe into your VΩmA port. Then, turn on your multimeter and set your dial to voltage mode, which should be shown by either a V with a straight line next to it or simply the = symbol, depending on the model you use.

On the positive terminal, place your red probe, and do the same on the negative terminal for the black probe. The screen will simply display the current voltage of the battery you are testing. If you have set your multimeter’s range too low, then the screen will read 1 or OL.

The 5 Best Budget Multimeters

Multimeter NameQualityPriceRating
AstroAI Digital MultimeterA+$
INNOVA 3320 MultimeterA$$
Crenova MS8233DA$
DMiotech Digital MultimeterA+$
Etekcity MSR-P600A$$

1. AstroAI Digital Multimeter

AstroAI Digital Multimeter-5be9f69015d09

The AstroAI Digital Multimeter, which comes as standard with Ohm Volt Amp and Diode tests, is an affordable multimeter with a range of features. This device is able to accurately measure current, voltage, continuity, diode, resistance and more. It features a large dial on its face and a screen that shows readings to two decimal points.

It can troubleshoot household and automotive electrical problems accurately and safely and is designed to be easy to use. The large digital, backlit LCD display is easy to see even in dark areas, and its 2-times-per-second sampling speed makes it ideal for professional usage.

Pros:

  • Backlit LCD to easily see readings
  • 2-times-per-second sampling speed
  • Measures voltage, current, resistance, diode, continuity, and other readings

Cons:

  • Some users suggest that the leads could be higher quality.

    BUY THIS ONE

2. INNOVA 3320 Multimeter

INNOVA 3320 Multimeter-5be9f69174988

INNOVA’s 3320 multimeter is a budget multimeter device with a rubberized shell designed to make it durable and resilient. This is a UL-certified product that safely and accurately troubleshoots problems in electrical equipment, including automotive and household appliances.

Its auto-ranging scales mean you don’t need to choose the right range on the dial before testing, speeding up your troubleshooting process. The device automatically detects the range and displays the reading on its large and bright screen.

There are also color-coded LEDs on the device that show you how much battery is available. The large, front-facing dial makes it easy to change the settings on your device, and the black and red probes are held in place on either side of the handheld unit.

Pros:

  • Rubberized corner and shell designed to make it durable.
  • Automatically detects range to speed up troubleshooting.
  • Single-setting resistance function for both DC and AC voltage.

Cons:

  • Some users claim that, upon second use, the device experience reading problems.

    BUY THIS ONE

3. Crenova MS8233D

Crenova MS8233D-5be9f69338f00

The Crenova MS8233D is an auto-ranging digital multimeter that offers overload protection. The PTC protection circuit is used for frequency and resistance measurement, and readings can easily be seen on the 3.5 digital LCD display. The display features a backlight for easy reading in dark areas.

The meter can measure both AC and DC voltage, current, resistance, continuity, diode, frequency and more.

You can use the data hold and Maximum Value hold functions to take note of important data. When left for 15 minutes, the device automatically switches off to save power. If you intend to switch the device back on, you can simply push any button or rotate the rotary switch on the front of the device.

The orange, rubber casing makes it durable and easy to spot in your toolbox.

Pros:

  • Protective, orange rubber shell makes it easy to see and really durable
  • Auto power-off feature to save battery
  • Reads well in dark places

Cons:

  • Screen only displays 3.5 digits

BUY THIS ONE

4. DMiotech Digital Multimeter

DMiotech Digital Multimeter-5be9f694bd1c8

Dmiotech’s digital multimeter and battery load tester is designed to be held easily in the hand, with a red rubber housing that makes it durable.

The multimeter is an affordable device that comes with 42 strands copper wire, 20A test leads. It accurately measures DC and AC current, voltage, continuity, diode, transistor hFE, resistance and more.

With its double-insulated body structure and its two 1000V 02A probes, it can ensure a long service life, whether it is being used for professional or residential purposes.

The auto power-off feature means it saves battery power when you’re not using it, and the large LCD screen is backlit for easy reading. There is also a buzzer and a red LED that is used in continuity tests.

Pros:

  • Comes with 20A test leads
  • Double insulated body structure
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Some users report the sound activation feature is not reliable.

    BUY THIS ONE

5. Etekcity MSR-P600

Etekcity MSR-P600-5be9f69679ce3

Etekcity’s MSR-P600 is an affordable, auto-ranging digital multimeter. In a red housing, the device can test AC and DC voltage, resistance, current and capacitance, frequency, diode, continuity and more. It features a test diode and continuity buzzer.

A data hold feature comes as standard, as well as relative measurement, and it can all be ready on the large, four-digit LCD display that is backlit and easy to read.

Using the auto-ranging feature, taking measurements is quicker and easier. This makes the Etekcity MSR-P600 a perfect device for amateur users. Its small size makes it easy to hold in the hand, and the auto power-off feature turns the device off after 30 minutes of inactivity.

The rotary switch on the front of the device and four buttons makes it simple to use.

Pros:

  • Four buttons and rotary switch are easy to use
  • Four-digit screen provides accurate measurements
  • Great for amateur users and professionals

Cons:

Our Top Choice

The Etekcity MSR-P600 is one of the best digital multimeters available on the market. The small, palm-sized device is ideal for both amateur and professional users, and it features just four simple buttons on the front in combination with a rotary dial for ease of use.

The auto-ranging feature also means users don’t have to set a range when taking measurements, making it possible to get accurate readings more quickly.

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